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Cablegate: Vietnam Ministry of Public Security On Trafficking

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 003288

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

STATE FOR G/TIP, INL/AAE, EAP/BCLTV, EAP/RSP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KWMN KCRM VM CH TW CA OMIG TIP CNARC
SUBJECT: VIETNAM MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SECURITY ON TRAFFICKING
IN PERSONS AND NARCOTICS

REF: HANOI 2323

1. (SBU) Summary: Senior members of the General Criminal
Division of the Ministry of Public Security described their
frustration with current laws preventing them from engaging
in closer cooperation with U.S. and other foreign law
enforcement agencies, and described the trafficking in
persons situation and GVN efforts to address the problem.
End summary.

2. (SBU) Poloff met December 17 with Director General of the
Criminal Police Department Pham Xuan Quac, Deputy Director
General of the Counternarcotics Department Nguyen Chi Le,
and Do Dinh Khiem, an officer in the counternarcotics
Department. Quac opened the meeting with general
observations about the importance of international
cooperation on law enforcement issues, especially TIP and
Counternarcotics. He said that MPS "routinely" cooperates
with the U.S. in criminal cases, especially in cases where
U.S. criminals have fled to Vietnam. The GVN, he said, has
made some arrests in the past of Vietnamese Americans based
on an exchange of information with the USG. These criminals
usually have connections to the south, and hide there, so
MPS headquarters cooperates closely with Ho Chi Minh City in
such cases, he added. Quac noted that this represented the
first meeting between the U.S. Embassy and MPS to discuss
the issue of trafficking in persons, and welcomed the
development.

MPS' characterization of the TIP problem in Vietnam
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (SBU) Quac reviewed the TIP situation in Vietnam and
described the problem as "complicated and sophisticated,
having a bad impact on the situation of the region and the
nation." Quac said that TIP, once confined to internal
migration of rural women to urban areas, was now related to
international criminal syndicates, and was no longer
contained within Vietnam's borders. In particular, the TIP
business in Vietnam was connected (in order of significance)
to Cambodia, China, Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Thailand, and
Malaysia. Laos, despite its border with Vietnam, did not
figure in Vietnamese TIP. On the list of countries involved
in TIP in Vietnam, Quac said MPS believed that China and
Cambodia accounted for most cases because of their
proximity. Quoc also noted that there is a growing problem
of trafficking in children in Vietnam through adoption
agencies fraudulently arranging adoptions with European
countries.

4. (SBU) Most of the women trafficked to Cambodia are sold
to brothels or forced to work as prostitutes, Quac said. In
China, he added, women are forced to become wives in
situations they do not want. The number of women forced
into prostitution in China is lower than in Cambodia, Quac
added. Taiwan is a special case, he said. In some cases,
Taiwanese men marry Vietnamese women in Vietnam and then
sell them to brothels in Taiwan.

Trafficking methods
-------------------

5. (SBU) Addressing the practicalities of trafficking, Quac
noted that Vietnam had over 5,000 KM of land borders with
other countries, and had many official border crossings as
well as countless "forest paths" where people crossed the
border unofficially. The traffickers use legal methods of
travel -- especially tourism and labor export mechanisms --
to disguise trafficking, he noted. Traffickers in Vietnam
profit from the gap between rich and poor and the
differences in development between regions of Vietnam, as
well as Vietnam's "increased integration into the
international system", Quac said.

6. (SBU) Quac said traffickers take advantage of Vietnamese
women's desire to travel, to improve their lives, and to
help their families. The women they target are generally
uneducated, naive, poor women from mountainous and rural
areas. Urban women are savvier and harder to cheat, Quac
observed. However, awareness activities and the
dissemination of laws and regulations are weaker in far-off
areas, and that makes women there vulnerable. Some, he
noted, worked as prostitutes in Vietnam and went willingly
to China, Cambodia and elsewhere to be prostitutes there.
Most women, however, had no idea before they went that they
would end up as an exploited wife or prostitute.

Failings in the Vietnamese legal system
---------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Quac admitted that the Vietnamese legal system is
"still under construction." He noted that coordination
between ministries, and between the central government and
the provinces, has always been tough. Difficulties in
investigation, prosecution, and conviction stemmed from this
problem. As an example, he noted that some criminals --
traffickers -- escaped from Vietnam while under
investigation, and some cases had to be dropped because the
suspect fled the country. State regulations and management
over labor export and marriage, he said, was "plagued with
loopholes" providing "semi-legal" reasons and mechanisms for
trafficking-related travel.

Policy-level anti-trafficking steps in the GVN
--------------------------------------------- -

8. (SBU) On the positive side, Quac noted that the GVN had
instructed various ministries to take action against
trafficking criminals. The most recent criminal code (in
1999) contained regulations on punishment of trafficking
crimes, with the highest penalty being 20 years in prison
and a VND 50 million fine. The penalties for trafficking in
children were even more severe, with life imprisonment
possible for traffickers. Directive 766, issued in 1997,
assigned responsibility and oversight over trafficking to
various agencies in the GVN. In September 2003 the Office
of the Prime Minister convened a ministerial conference to
review the progress of Directive 766, and at that
conference, the PM's office declared that Vietnam needed a
national-level program to combat trafficking (reftel). The
PM assigned the Ministry of Public Security to chair a
committee to help the government supervise this task. MPS
assigned tasks to various groups from various agencies to
work on the national-level program, and the collected the
drafts for transmission to the PM for approval. The result
of the PM's decision is still pending, Quoc noted, but in
the meantime, the GVN had asked all agencies and localities
to support anti-trafficking activities, particularly by
working to reduce poverty and alleviate hunger and offering
victim assistance to returnees, and by strengthening the
patrols of the Cambodian and Chinese borders.

Concrete steps
--------------

9. (SBU) Quac informed poloff that the Department of Police
had established a team of 10 officers headed by a three-star
colonel to focus on "social evils", including trafficking.
The officers were specially chosen, and all had university
degrees. The GDP had already requested that MPS upgrade the
team to the level of a Department, with 20 officers. Quac
said. The team's primary responsibility was to coordinate
with MOLISA, the Women's Union, the Committee on Population,
Families, and Children, and the other agencies with equities
in the Trafficking issue, and to detect criminals. The team
would also participate in planned visits to China and
Cambodia to discuss trafficking and other transnational
crimes. The Cambodia visit would occur after Tet and focus
on trafficking in persons, narcotics, and the bilateral MOU
on law enforcement. The delegation would be headed by a
Vice Minister from MPS, he added.

10. (SBU) The number one role of MPS, Quac said, was to
investigate cases, arrest suspects, and coordinate the
trial. Other agencies and other ministries have their own
responsibilities vis-a-vis trafficking, he said, and denied
that MPS would "lead" those agencies. MPS does not have
tasking authority over other ministries, he explained.
Noting, however, that the Deputy Prime Minister (Nguyen Tan
Dung) had suggested an office or department be created to
"lead the effort" against trafficking in persons, he
speculated that the new MPS office might be elevated to the
role of advising the Office of the Government on trafficking
matters, which would give it de facto tasking authority over
other offices and agencies, even ministries. The legal
tasking authority, however, would remain the Office of the
Government.

MPS would like more international cooperation, not less
--------------------------------------------- ----------

11. (SBU) Quac noted that a high priority of the GVN was to
"complete our legal system to let us cooperate with each
other and foreigners." (Note: this was a reference to the
difficulty MPS has in engaging in operational cooperation
with foreign law enforcement agencies such as DEA due to
restrictive regulations and laws. End note.) He added that
MPS had recently established a team for working on this
issue. It was important to figure out a way to coordinate
the role of police from countries in the region, he said.
He hoped the U.S. and Vietnam would be able to take
advantage of the CNA by designing more cooperation and more
activities.

Finally, he noted that statistics on trafficking cases for
2003 were unavailable. He provided the following numbers
(unavailable in disaggregated form) for the period 1991-
2002:

CASES 2,269
SUSPECTS 3,787
PROSECUTIONS 1,818
OFFENDERS TRIED 3,118

Quac concluded that in 2003, MPS had worked even harder, so
the numbers would ultimately show an improvement.

Le on Counternarcotics
----------------------

12. (SBU) DDG Le noted and thanked DEA for assisting MPS so
far in its counternarcotics efforts. He gave a general
rundown of information on narcotics trafficking in Vietnam,
most of which is reported septel in the 2003 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report. He did note, however,
that the entire poppy production in Vietnam could be
consumed locally within 7-10 days by Vietnam's addict
population. Vietnam, he said, is not producing for export.

13. (SBU) Le admitted frankly that Vietnam had trouble
controlling its borders, noting also that the General
Department of Police has only token representation in border
areas, which are the responsibility of the Army and the
Border Guards.

14. (SBU) Le said he had heard that the U.S. and Vietnam had
signed the Counternarcotics LOA, but had seen no official
notification of it in the Vietnamese press or through
official channels. With the agreement, he hoped that the
U.S. and Vietnam could coordinate more. He said his hope
was that the Agreement would "create the conditions for the
U.S. and Vietnam to realize our wishes." MPS, he said, had
a lot of wishes.

MPS hands are tied on cooperation, controlled delivery
--------------------------------------------- ---------

15. (SBU) Le spoke heatedly and emotionally about the lack
of permission for MPS to do controlled deliveries of
narcotics. He said that the 2001 drug law mentions
controlled deliveries, but added that a "sub-law" is needed
to regulate justice agencies' use of the technique. Without
the sub-law, he said, he would be breaking the law if he
participated in a controlled delivery operation -- and would
be arrested. As far as MPS and the Counternarcotics
Department was concerned, regulations permitting controlled
deliveries were badly needed and long overdue. It was,
unfortunately, up to the People's Procuracy and the Court to
agree before MPS could start using this tactic.

16. (SBU) Asked about real operational coordination with
DEA, Le noted again that existing Vietnamese law blocked him
from operational cooperation with foreign law enforcement in
Vietnam and said that until the legal issues were resolved,
it was not going to happen.

Praise for ILEA
---------------

17. (SBU) Le was very complimentary of ILEA and said that
his department greatly valued the training they received
there. He hoped that the CNA would not mean an end to
Vietnamese participation in ILEA. He suggested that MPS
would be interested in holding a conference or workshop for
law enforcement in cooperation with DEA or the Embassy as a
possible application of the CNA, and said that MPS was open
to suggestions of a subject for such a conference.

18. (SBU) Comment: Most of Quan and Le's points in the
meeting were read from a prepared text that had been cleared
ahead of time. The spontaneous sections of the meetings
occurred in the discussion of obstacles to international
cooperation and to the use of controlled deliveries. End
comment.
BURGHARDT

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